Honor societies contribute to scholarship, community and development

Grove City College is known for its rigor and excellence in academics. In accordance with the excellence in different academic fields, various disciplines have their own honor societies to which students can earn membership in.

“Because the Grove City College student is so academically focused, generally, it only stands to reason they desire the esteem that comes from membership in the national honorary of their specific major,” T. Scott Gordon, director of student activities and programs said.

Honor societies provide an opportunity for students performing at the top of their class to join with fellow students to serve the community, find connections to future employers and continue to develop as an individual. 

“Membership in such societies indicates to employers and graduate recruiters that, not only does this student excel academically but that they are committed to professional development and community,” Dr. DJ Wagner, professor of Physics said.

Wagner advises Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics national honorary. “On campus, our Sigma Pi Sigma members contribute to the department and the community,” Wagner said.

Each year, Wagner tasks the student officers to present an idea for a service activity for the honorary to do. In the past, the group has volunteered for the United Way Day of Caring and the annual academic research symposium. This year, the members are offering free tutoring in sophomore-level physics courses once a week – now taking place virtually.

The honorary is also closely connected with the Physics Club, and they are both part of the Society of Physics Students, though separate entities.

“Sigma Pi Sigma members join a 100-year-old international community devoted to honoring scholarship, encouraging interest in physics, promoting an attitude of service, and providing a fellowship with other excellent students,” Wagner said.

Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) is the Education honorary. The advisers are Jolene Munson, director of the Early Education Center, and Dr. Gina Blackburn, professor of Education. According to Blackburn, there are just under 30 students currently in membership. “The honorary allows our members to connect with outstanding educators from around the world,” Blackburn said.

The Grove City College Chapter of KDP participates in many activities throughout the year including monthly meetings that include professional development, service work such as Parents' Night Out for the families of the Early Education Center twice a year and an Awesome Authors writing contest once a year for K-8 students from school districts in Western Pennsylvania, according to Blackburn.

“Each year we also invite members and/or officers to present with us at the international conference,” Blackburn said. “Students who attend get to go to workshops on teaching and connect with other teachers and administrators from all over the world.”

The Psi Chi psychology chapter at Grove City College just celebrated 25 years of existence, according to adviser Dr. Gary Welton, assistant dean for Institutional Assessment and Professor of Psychology. Over its history, a total of 265 students have been inducted into the honorary. This spring there will be 12 current members.

The group puts out a research journal entitled the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research. A set of 2005 graduates and members of the honorary won a Psi Chi award for their article in the journal at the annual meeting of Eastern Psychological Association, which is the oldest of the regional Psychological Associations in the United States.

Apart from academic honoraries, the College also has two honor societies: Omicron Delta Kapp (ODK) and Mortar Board. Mortar Board is an honor society for college seniors, and ODK is a leadership honorary. Both require a top of the class ranking, and candidates are also chosen for their leadership and service to the college community. The two societies also work together on many events.

Dr. Eric Potter, professor of English, is the faculty secretary for ODK. “Membership in ODK is one of the highest honors at the college, since it recognizes leaders from a variety of endeavors across campus,” Potter said.

“ODK doesn’t exist to do things so much as to recognize people for their excellence and leadership in what they’re already doing,” Potter said. However, the organization does remain active on campus in many ways: ODK helped found and continues to coordinate the Professor of the Year award; oversees (along with Mortar Board) the Senior Man and Senior Woman of the Year awards; plays a role in the Sportsman of the Year award and sponsors a Papers of the Year contest. For many years, ODK (often along with Mortar Board) hosted Faculty Follies.

“I think the significance is being recognized for one’s excellence and leadership by being asked to join a local circle of a national organization that’s been around since 1914,” Potter said.

When students join these societies, they join years of excellence preceding them. They are held to a high standard and learn to grow through service and community within their academic discipline.

Honor societies contribute to scholarship, community and development

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